Have you ever told your child to stop yelling, then five minutes later you’re yelling?
How about told them to be respectful of their elders, then shortly after you find yourself badmouthing your elders?
It’s a pretty rotten feeling, isn’t it – breaking your own rules. It sets a pretty bad example.
What about the big name politician or preacher who stands for solid family values, then gets found out for having affairs? They’re unable to live up to their own lofty rules they wanted to create.
It’s infuriating when someone sets rules (especially for someone else) when they themselves don’t follow them. It certainly infuriates me.
There’s a lot of people now wanting to create a lot of rules, laws and regulations. Only a few years ago I got a letter from my children’s pre-school. It informed me that the local council will now be regulating what the children’s lunch is wrapped in!
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about diversity. Heard slogans like ‘diversity is our strength’. Maybe you’ve heard an employer wanting to employ a more diverse workforce. You might have heard of diversity targets or quotas. Probably the most common one you hear is increasing the representation of women on company boards and senior management positions. Some people are even arguing that this should be legislated, with companies having to report what they are doing to encourage women into senior leadership and board positions. Am I saying women in senior management and boards is a bad thing? Certainly not! As an interesting side note, you never hear anyone arguing for women to be working down mines or driving trucks at the same rate as men. Inversely, I’ve never ever ever heard of anyone arguing for quotas for men to be equally represented in nursing or teaching. I’ll make a generalised assumption here and say that it is the more progressive section of our society arguing for an increase (and legislation) in women in senior leadership and board positions.
There’s also a concurrent movement happening in relation to the recognition of a range of sexual attractions and gender identities. The most recent big thing to happen in Australia is legislation passing to allow same-sex couples to marry. Some Australian states currently have legislation in place, or are considering legislation to allow a person to change their gender identity on their birth certificate. These rules differ from state to state. In most states that have changed this law, there needs to be medical evidence of a change of gender, for example, evidence of gender reassignment surgery. There is consideration to change the law in Queensland allowing a person to change their gender on their birth certificate based on their feelings. That is, a person can update their gender on their birth certificate without any other evidence. A man can simply identify as a woman, but continue to live as they were without any outward or inward changes and request to have his (her!) gender on their birth certificate changed. I’ll again make a generalised assumption here and say that these and similar changes have been championed by the more progressive leaning in our society.
The most common responses you hear from people at the sound of this is something along the lines of “I don’t want a man who thinks he’s a woman in the toilets with my wife/girlfriend/mother/daughter”. Very valid concerns indeed. I also want to convey my sincerest desire that no one should be legally discriminated, bullied or harassed based on their gender identity or sexual attractions. Secondly, my sincerest thoughts genuinely extend to people who have a schism between their biological identity and their truly held belief that it doesn’t represent the gender they identify with. I personally can’t imagine how difficult it would be to wrestle with competing identities, societal expectations and discrimination.
So now, we have the more progressive leaning in our society arguing for an increase in women in senior leadership and board positions, including legislating for organisations to increase the representation of women in these positions. We also have the more progressive leaning in our society arguing (successfully, in some states) that gender is fluid and a biological fact on a birth certificate can be changed, and changed based on a feeling. If legislation proposed in Queensland is passed, it would be possible for a man simply to change his/her birth certificate to a woman based on their current feelings.
Let’s follow this through to some not-impossible real world implications. Keep in mind that male-to-female athletes have started to compete in women’s teams, often dominating their biologically women competitors in the process. A company wants to increase the representation of women at a particular level of seniority and puts measures in place to mentor and recruit female employees into those roles. It would not be impossible for a man in Queensland to feel he was a bit womanly, change his legal birth certificate to female and apply for those roles. The company would not be able to prevent him from applying based on his gender, as he is now legally a she. It’s possible that his nomination and acceptance means a more qualified, talented or motivated woman is unable to attend. It’s not impossible.
I prefaced this article based on living up to the rules you create. Living up to the laws you create. Have you noticed laws often have the reverse impact, or require more laws to counteract the negative impacts of those laws. A recent example in Australia is laws being updated that GST (essentially, our sales tax) to be applied to internet purchases from places like Amazon in the US. It was expected that this would net a massive increases in tax revenue. You know what happened? Amazon US now simply refuses to ship goods to Australia. No more taxes for Malcolm!
If you put a law in place to prevent discrimination against women, I promise you that before too long, people who identify as intersex will want a law to prevent discrimination against them. If you put a law in place to prevent people being nasty to others because of their race, gender or beliefs, you might be able to prosecute a few idiots who sprout off unkind things. What you will achieve is not more tolerance or diversity, but less people willing to talk openly and honestly about genuine concerns they have. If you put a law in place saying that a particular section of society can have special access to a program, support or job, two things will happen. Firstly, more people will suddenly identify with that section of society to gain access to that particular program, support or job. Secondly, there will be another cohort of society that thinks they are equally or more deserving of special access to their own programs, supports or jobs and they will want legislation to support that.
Laws designed to help a particular group (or punish another) inevitably lead to those helped being the ones that find themselves at the rough hand of the law they created when a new, more discriminated group comes along. The early feminists had great success breaking down barriers, seeing women enter the workforce, gaining the vote, having more reproductive rights. The early feminists were generally white women from the middle and upper classes. The next feminists recognised that it wasn’t just white women being oppressed, but it was also women of colour. The feminists realised that white women were actually quite privileged, and the feminist women of colour suddenly saw them as the enemy. White feminism became bad, because they only had rights because of their privilege. Now, we have some feminists argue that straight white and women of colour are the privileged ones, and it is the women who have differing sexual attractions or gender identities are the ones that are really downtrodden. It’s those nasty heterosexual white and women of colour feminists that are privileged, because heterosexuality is oppressive. This isn’t nonsense. This is happening now.
The government can’t legislate your problems away. It can’t validate you – not in a lasting, permanent way. If you play the victim, you’ll always be the victim, even when greater victims come along and claim you’re the oppressor.
Always be careful about the laws you want made. You might have to live up to them one day.
We hear a lot about political correctness. You’ve probably heard people say things like ‘oh, that’s not politically correct’, or ‘that wasn’t a very politically correct thing to say’. It pervades almost every area of our lives – in some areas more than others.
You’ve probably also heard the saying ‘manners maketh the man’. I know I certainly heard it growing up. Manners were drummed into me from a very early age. Things like standing when an elder entered the room, opening the door for a lady, taking my hat off inside, table manners, conversational manners – I could go on. I suspect for many in my demographic this was the case. I’ve recounted a story before of a family friend, a doctor and true gentleman who referred to my grandmother always as ‘Mrs Vidins’, in the most respectful, humble way. His manners were always impeccable.
I’m sure you’ve come across people who have fantastic manners. The inverse is probably true too. I’ve certainly met people who come across as disgusting pigs – foul mouthed, disrespectful boors.
Political correctness is the idea that you are restrained by an outward force – a cultural norm, a policy, a coercive power. It coerces you to not say something, or do something, in the name of ‘offending’ someone, regardless of the truth or accuracy of the message. You may have bitten your tongue sometimes because you were worried, or feared about the repercussions of your words. I’ll give some examples. You might have wanted to question the effectiveness of our past, or current refugee processes, but didn’t because you were concerned about being called a racist. You may have wanted to raise your thoughts on same-sex marriage, but didn’t because you knew you’d be labelled a homophobe. Perhaps you had questions on the millions of dollars that were being spent on our indigenous brothers and sisters, without any identifiable increases in health, education, workplace participation or decreases in violence and abuse, but didn’t because you knew you’d be labelled as a hater.
It’s important to pause at this stage, because I’m sure some will think I’m pointing the finger at progressive, or left-wing political correctness. If you’re thinking that, you’re correct, I am. I’ve noticed the most intolerance has come from the left in our present age. It comes in the form of bullying, of the threat of legal action (s18c, anyone?), of having your businesses targeted (refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding). It even comes in the form of opposing a whole nation (the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish Boycott, Divestment & Sanction (BDS) movement). We see our politicians take a politically correct line when talking about terrorism. How often have you heard a prominent politician say a terrorist atrocity undertaken by a Muslim in the name of Allah has nothing to do with Islam? It’s like saying a drunk driver hitting and killing someone on the road has nothing to do with alcohol. Are all Muslims terrorists? OF COURSE NOT! Are all drunks likely to get behind the wheel and be a danger on the road? OF COURSE NOT! Political correctness is that outside force preventing you from speaking the truth, asking a question or voicing a concern because it may cause an offence, be taken the wrong way or cause a retaliation. It’s external.
Manners, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. The total opposite, in fact.
Manners come from a place of inner strength, a place of confidence. Manners isn’t cowardice, oh no. Manners, which goes hand in hand with self-restraint, comes from a place of steadfast conviction. Manners give you the confidence to articulate, not as a reaction, but as a confident position of concrete values. Manners comes from a place of seeking to understand first, to inquire, to test and to challenge, wanting the best, even if that means discomfort during the process.
Manners is an absolute inner process that regulates, analyses, tests and speaks from a place of conviction, with conviction. It comes from a place of respect – self-respect first, then respect for others. Manners is the practice of holding back, not out of fear of retaliation, but from understanding there is no point in an argument for the sake of an argument.
Political correctness is a fear that your words, or some actions will have dire ramifications either directly, or from a third party. Political correctness is suppressing the truth out of fear of retaliation. Despite what some argue, there are truths. There are universal truths. Biological truths. Scientific truths. Spiritual truths. Truths that have real implications for here, and the hereafter.
Manners always seeks the best, even when there is disagreement. It’s the dignified silence in the face of howled insults. Manners is the confidence of truth, spoken in earnest respect. It’s not a cowered, timid mumble. It’s not a brash bulldozer of anger.
Political correctness seeks to crush. It seeks to paint over truth with lies. It seeks to silence. It hates dissent. It fears the thinker. It scoffs at the one confident in truth. Political correctness employs all means necessary – shame, legislation, violence to silence and intimidate anything outside the ‘correct’ narrative. It uses name calling, lies, gross distortions and hatred to plough over and rip up. Political correctness hates free speech, free thought and debate. Intolerance is its mandate, coercion is its goal. It does it for power, for powers sake. It is never satisfied with enough.
Manners seeks to edify the individual. It seeks to understand, it seeks the truth, it proclaims what is right. Manners is the respectful debate of ideas. It’s the safe harbour where ideas flourish, where the individual is nourished. Manners come from a place of confidence, it extends the hand of respect. Manners doesn’t compromise the truth, and confidently invites others to seek it.
Let me tell you this. We need more people with manners, across the spectrum of ideas, ideals and thoughts. We absolutely need less political correctness. Next time you have a choice when it comes to the truth, what will you do? Will you cower to political correctness, or will you use your manners to confidently proclaim what is right?